The Post quoted people familiar with the investigation that federal agents were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons, among other things, at Trump’s resort. The people did not describe the documents in detail, nor whether they related to US or other nation’s nuclear weapons. DailyExpertNews has not independently confirmed the report.
But if it turns out that Trump did get such material out of the White House, it would raise the question of why a former president would need such closely guarded secrets after his term in office. The possibility that such material would be kept in an unsecured facility, where guests come and go and where it could potentially be vulnerable to penetration by a foreign intelligence agency would alarm government officials.
In the intensifying legal battle over the search, Trump has until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to officially state whether he will challenge Garland’s move.
In a statement on his Truth Social network late Thursday, the former president said he would not oppose the release of documents related to the “un-American, unwarranted and unnecessary raid and burglary” of his home. He did not say exactly which documents he would like to release. And the FBI search wasn’t a burglary; it was legally authorized by a warrant approved by a judge who should have found probable cause for committing a crime.
It’s your turn, Mr. Former President
Garland’s guess was a neat one.
Search warrants are generally sealed to protect the reputation of the person they apply to. But Trump himself broke the news of the search, shattering his own expectations of privacy, to orchestrate a political firestorm to discredit the investigation. And if Trump were to fight to keep the document sealed, he would look even more like he has something to hide.
“This is a good move,” Phil Mudd, a former FBI and CIA official, said of Garland’s actions in “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
“This is not the movement of a pawn. This is a movement of something between a rook and a queen.”
If Trump decided to challenge the unsealing of the warrant — a move that could neutralize the GOP’s claims that the ex-president is a target of political victimization — his lawyers would have to explain in court why. The judge in the case, who has received death threats and insults on social media from Trump supporters, could still decide to support the Justice Department’s motion, even if the former president wants to keep the information secret.
“This is what it looks like when you see the rule of law fighting back against Trump’s lies,” Nick Akerman, a former US assistant attorney for New York’s Southern District, told DailyExpertNews’s Erin Burnett.
“I think it is extremely unlikely that Donald Trump will prevail here.”
Garland’s game is an obvious attempt to quell the anger of Republican officials over the unprecedented search warrant at the former president’s home. Lawmakers, media pundits and Trump supporters have unleashed unhinged claims that the US is now nothing more than a police state, with a Gestapo-esque secret police, and has descended into tyranny.
When he decided to appear in front of the Justice Department cameras, Garland not only exclaimed Trump’s bluff and bow to pressure from Republican leaders who have demanded to know the justification for the search. He tried to protect his department and the judicial process, as he insisted that every step of the investigation was taken with care. His brief appearance, in which he didn’t answer questions, was written to refute specific criticisms and the out-of-control conspiracy theories on the right.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the basic tenet of the Justice Department and of our democracy,” Garland said.
“Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favour,” he said, implying that even ex-presidents are not shielded if there are suspicions that they have committed a crime. Garland also spoke out strongly in defense of the FBI and Justice Department’s grassroots, calling them “devoted, patriotic officials” as Trump’s lackeys portray the agency as a politicized branch of Democratic hoax.
The attorney general’s comments, a dramatic moment in Washington, were a sign of the extraordinary sensitivity and importance of the investigation into the former president. In general, the FBI says little about ongoing investigations unless someone is charged — a move that, if it happens, may seem a long way off in this case.
An unsealed search warrant will not fully establish whether the department’s action against Trump was justified or was an overstatement. But Garland’s initiative at least suggests a strong confidence the agency is building against Trump. It also shows that the department, from above, stands behind the decision to continue the search — in the clear knowledge that doing so would provoke an extraordinary and vehement response from Trump.
The idea that the entire affair is just a politically motivated conspiracy hatched by legal hacks — the essential Trump case against it — is much harder to believe after Garland’s appearance.
Trump’s attorneys have not yet responded to the DOJ’s motion.
The former president seems to have three options. He was able to release the search warrant and inventory of items the FBI had removed from his resort; he could accede to the Department’s request for it to be opened by the court; or he could oppose the release of the warrant to the public.
In a logical universe, the latter option seems unlikely, as the ex-president has invaded his own privacy by breaking news of the FBI search on a politicized screed Monday night. And the Justice Department essentially argues in its filing with the court that the public’s interest in knowing what really led to the search now outweighs Trump’s interest in keeping the details secret. The public interest is arguably even greater in light of the Post’s coverage of nuclear documentation.
“If he came back now and said, ‘I don’t want this,’ it would be very strange and bizarre,” said Jared Carter, a professor at Vermont Law School.
But Trump is not playing by the normal rules. Given his lifelong track record of exhausting every legal avenue to thwart liability and the inability of judicial and political institutions to coerce him, a counterintuitive legal strategy cannot be ruled out.
Whether the ex-president keeps his promise not to oppose the release of documents in the case is likely to become clear on Friday.
Republicans shift the goalposts
The coverage of the FBI seeking nuclear documentation at Mar-a-Lago raises new questions for Republicans who attacked the agency and the Justice Department during the search without any clear knowledge of what it was about.
Even without that context, Garland’s move earlier Thursday should remove Republicans’ demands to let him speak publicly about the search and publish the warrant. But as soon as the attorney general stopped talking, major Republicans demanded more.
“What I’m looking for is the search predicate,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement.
“Was the information provided to the judge sufficient and necessary to authorize a raid on the former president’s home within 90 days of the midterm elections? course of action was necessary,” added the Trump ally in South Carolina .
While Garland asked for the search warrant to be unsealed, which could come with an inventory of documents taken from Trump’s residence, he did not ask for the unsealing of affidavits intended to show probable cause that a crime was committed in support of the warrant application. So Graham made his call knowing he’s asking for a move that would violate longstanding Justice Department guidelines — and any criminal case the FBI might eventually bring against the former president. , could undermine.
Trump himself responded to Garland’s on-camera appearance with one of his signature “Witch Hunt” posts on his Truth Social media network.
But the attorney general is also trying a strategy that has consistently failed at Trump — using facts and legal standards to break through his wall of lies and untruths.
Some Trump allies have already floated another conspiracy theory — that the FBI placed documents in the ex-president’s residence.
Nearly two years after Trump lost the last election, the nation faces yet another exhausting challenge to the rule of law from the twice-imposed ex-president.
Facts and truth are again the first victims.
This story has been updated with additional developments.